10 things you should never share at work

Your insatiable thirst for tequila, bits of offensive humor, and any invasive medical procedures should be off-limits in your exchanges with colleagues. And that’s just the beginning…

There are some things we shouldn’t tell anyone at work.

Sharing the wrong things with co-workers can quickly backfire and leave us exposed, vulnerable, or sidelined. Though some banter with colleagues is great, it is important to know where to draw the line.

Always remember that many people love to pass along gossip. What’s more, most people continue to talk and complain about colleagues when they get home or see friends.

So here are my top 10 things I believe you shouldn’t share with anyone at work:

1. Salary or money details. Never talk about money at work, be it details about your salary or how much you have spent on your house, car, or latest gadget. Talking about money can trigger negative feelings such as jealousy and resentment.

2. Intimate details about your love or sex life. you might have the most amazing or most miserable love life there is, but don’t share the detail at work.

3. Whether and how much alcohol you drink. Even if you are nursing the hangover from hell or want to share the excesses of your super party weekend, don’t do it at work. It will always look unprofessional. As for talking about other drugs, don’t even think about it.

4. Political views. You might feel like saying: “Why would anyone in their right mind vote for a Republican/Democrat?” Simply don’t do it. Politics can divide people and open up a massive can of worms.

Related: Download your FREE guide: “Auditing Your Internal Communications

5. Religious views. The same applies to religious beliefs. It is great that people have their religions but remember that many wars are caused by religious differences.

6. Offensive jokes. We all like to have a laugh at work, but not if it means you discriminate against someone. If you feel the need to share jokes, think twice about whether they might offend anyone.

7. Your Facebook account. Making friends at work is wonderful, but I feel that connecting with all colleagues on Facebook is a step too far. I use LinkedIn for colleagues and Facebook only for close friends. I think it is so hard to control what goes out to others (e.g., comments of friends of friends). Almost every day I see posts and pictures on Facebook that make me cringe (where friends of friends have posted completely inappropriate things), and it is best to keep colleagues out of that loop.

8. Medical details. For whatever reason we love to talk about our illnesses and ailments—a bit like kids who can’t wait to show others their scratches and bruises. Even though we all want to hear about medical details, work is not the place to share how you had an anal probe inserted to check for hemorrhoids.

9. Gossip and negative comments about co-workers. Even if you think everyone agrees that “David from the accounts department is a massive jerk,” don’t say it out loud.

10. That you are looking for a new job. You might feel unhappy in your job and are actively looking for now post, but don’t tell anyone at work. It will very quickly come out and could leave you in an awkward position.

So here you have it, my top 10 things you shouldn’t share at work.

Just to be clear: Obviously there are many work places where it is safe to share intimate personal details. I am not advocating that you become a work robot that never reveals any personality to others. Of course we want personality, opinions and the true you at work. The key point is that sharing any of Nos. 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, and 10 and too much of Nos. 2, 4, 5, and 7 is generally inappropriate at work and can make you or others feel exposed or sidelined.

Are there others you would add to this list? If so, please share them in the comments section.

A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn.

This article first ran on Ragan.com in March 2014.

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